Cisco Banks on Performance Enhancements

Infrastructure performance is becoming a critical consideration for data center design and capacity planning, especially with new technologies pushing the theoretical limits of the current generation of networking hardware. Cisco is aiming to keep ahead of the performance curve with enhancements to its FEX-link (Fabric Extender) architecture, Unified Computing System products and Nexus 5000 switches. Cisco’s enhancements to its FEX-link (Fabric Extender) architecture will enable the company’s Unified Computing System and Nexus 5000 switches to support almost any fabric, including 100Mb, 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet, as well as native Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, InfiniBand over Ethernet, iSCSI and NAS.

Cisco says that added flexibility helps to future-proof its networking products, while still offering a method to scale from earlier fabrics to the latest high-performance options, such as 10Gb Ethernet. That performance scalability proves to be very important as enterprises add next-generation servers, which can handle much higher throughput rates. For example, Cisco’s improvements will enable the Cisco Unified Computing System to offer up to 160Gb of bandwidth per blade.

Bringing additional performance to server racks is Cisco’s release of its second generation of the Nexus 2000 port extender series. These devices work as top-of-rack networking devices, which extend the rack’s management control plane to an end of row Nexus 5000 switch. The Nexus 2248 and 2232 now support 100 Megabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, upping the throughput of each server rack.

Cisco is planning to add FEX-Link support to its Nexus 7000 Series switches later this year to standardize the fabric capabilities across the Nexus product line. Cisco’s enhancements are all part of the companies vision for its Unified Computing System, which is aimed at helping service providers reduce the expense, management complexity, and power consumption of their IT plants, while paving the way for the company’s Data Center 3.0 vision. Ideally, Cisco’s product enhancements and improvements will allow the company to provide a cohesive data-center architecture that links computing, networking, virtualization, storage access and management.

With Cisco now offering the next generation of Data Center products, Cisco partners and solution providers should be able to sell design, services and management solutions into larger enterprises as data centers are re-engineered to meet the needs of cloud computing, hosted services, virtualized solutions and unified communications technologies.

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